Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cold weather cycling gloves

I got a comment on my cold weather cycling tights post asking for some advice on cold weather cycling gloves.  Unfortunately, that's not something I've figured out yet either!

Usually, if it's cold but not freezing, I'll wear my padded fingerless gloves and throw a pair of big fleece gloves over the top.  If it is freezing, I'll put on my big thick skiing gloves instead.

I would love to pick up a good pair of actual cold weather gloves for biking, but I, too, would love some advice.  Which gloves give you good quality protection and comfort for a reasonable price?

What gloves do you readers out there like for cold weather on a bike?  Please leave your comments!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Shebeest Women's Wind Pro Tights Review

This week, I got some good advice on cold weather cycling tights from many of you, and my searching ended with the purchase of a pair of Shebeest Women's Wind Pro Tights on sale from Bike Nashbar.  They arrived yesterday, and I had to try them out right away!  So I pulled them on over a pair of bike shorts with some wool socks, a base layer shirt and my Team Fatty hoody and got on my bike for a ride - a trial run for what to wear at the Iceman.

These tights are amazing!  It was somewhere in the 50 degree F range outside (give or take a few degrees), and I have to say that these tights were borderline too warm.  They will be awesome for weather between about freezing and 50 F.


- The front panels really do block out the wind.
- They are lined with fleese that is soft and warm.

- They are comfy!
- The reflective strips really do reflect when light is shined at them.
- They are long enough for my tall legs!  A rare and wonderful thing.
- The zippers at the ankles make them easy to get on.

- The bands around the bottom keep them in place.
- They have a tall rise.  On the down side, this makes the tights less than sexy, but I don't care.  They keep me covered in the back when I'm stretched out on the bike.

- They look rugged and cool (in my opinion anyway). ;)
- They were a decent price for cycling-specific gear.
- You could wear a layer under or over them if you needed extra warmth.
- Since they don't have a chamois, you could wear them running or skiing, too.


- The small pocket in the back is not very deep.  I would be afraid that things will bounce out of it.  So I'd put a gel or some tissues in there but not my phone or ID.

- They are truly for weather of 50 F or below (if that is a con).
- Actually...I can't think of any other cons!

Also, they look like they would repel water pretty well on the front, but I haven't tested them in the rain.  If they did get soaked, they would be heavy, but possibly still warm due to the fleece lining.

So overall, I'm really happy that I bought these, and I can't wait to try them out in colder weather at the race!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's called the ICEMAN for a reason

Last night was a busy night, but I just had to squeeze a run in. So when I got home from work, I changed into running clothes and pushed out the door. I only had a short time before people were showing up at my house, so I stuck a note to the front door and chose a 2.5 mile route. Then, I ran like I had no time. I pushed the pace quite a bit for my out-of-shape-feeling legs. 2.5 miles in about 19:30 – that’s a 7:48 pace. It felt really hard, but it felt good.

It’s been tough to find the time to ride or run these past few weeks. But I really need to prioritize keeping my endurance up for the Iceman.

I got an email yesterday with race information updates, and it was signed “Keep riding and think snow!” Yes…keep riding. I should do that. ;)

And also…I know this is the ICE-man not the WARM-man or even the MUD-man. I should welcome snow as part of the experience. But really, I’d be fine with 50 degree F weather and nice dry, packed trail! I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

On that note, too, I need to figure out what I’m going to wear. I don’t own any cycling tights or much warm weather gear. Any suggestions for inexpensive cold weather tights, gloves, etc. would be appreciated!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bike Man...New Mysterious Super Hero?

I read an interesting article by J. Bennett Rylah today on Rapid Growth (see the article here). It’s about the mysterious Bike Man who apparently moved back to Grand Rapids recently and has been commuting around the city by bike wearing a mask and a black tux jacket.

Courtesy of Brian Kelly at http://briankellyphoto.net/

I certainly agree with what this guy is attempting to accomplish with promoting a healthy lifestyle and awareness of bicycles as transportation.

But I am a little annoyed with his apparent lack of homework on the cycling activism that has been going on in Grand Rapids for the past few years. The article does admit that “Bike Man had no frame of reference for what’s happened regarding biking during his absence,” which I appreciate. But I’m a little annoyed anyway.

In recent years, Grand Rapids has had its first bike lanes, miles of trails, a cycling friendly governor, the Ride of Silence, Bike to Work week, countless club and social rides, well attended cycling races and tours, recognition as a cycling friendly city and Critical Mass rides to name a few cycling community accomplishments.

The big event that Bike Man is organizing right now is a Critical Mass ride on October 29 starting at Veterans Park downtown. I’m excited that this fun, Halloween themed ride is happening, and I like how he’s presenting it as “a really good way for people who don’t ride their bikes in traffic to start out in a bubble of other riders and get used to riding in the streets.” But CM in Grand Rapids is not new. Though I'm not surprised that Bike Man was "unable to find an active Critical Mass group."  I rode with the group last year, though it has become inactive since then.

So, I really do wish Bike Man the best of luck. I’ll have to check out his Facebook profile. I look forward to seeing what he organizes in the future.

I guess I’m just a little defensive of the progress that Grand Rapids has been making toward cycling friendliness in the past few years. I want people to know about how cool the city is becoming. And I want attitudes, activities, legislation and infrastructure to continue in that direction. Maybe Bike Man will be an integral part of that process!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Island Lake Recreation Area

The hubby and I headed out to the Detroit area on Saturday, so the hubby could play in a Magic tournament and we could attend a friend’s birthday party later in the evening. So, I had most of the day free and decided to explore a little mountain biking in the area.

There are a surprising number of trails in the metro area, which I shouldn’t be surprised by due to the number of state parks, but I didn’t mountain bike growing up. I never looked for trails in the area before.

I ended up checking out Island Lake Recreation Area near Brighton, MI. The two trails, totaling about 15 miles of singletrack, were beginner friendly and fast. A few areas were moderately technical, but most of the miles flew over smooth, packed sand. It was great practice for the Iceman, but it confirmed that I'm moving pretty solidly into the "Intermediate" skill level.  I'm kind of proud of how much my skill and confidence have improved this summer!

I had a great time on the trails and could have gone a lot farther, but I had other places to be. And what an amazing day for riding! It was joy on a bike.

Gotta love the windblown look!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The plan

My plan for preparing for the Iceman Cometh Challenge is to ride every weekend until then and to run a couple times during the weeks.  I'd ride during the week, too, but the sun is starting to set to early to get any distance in.

In accordance with the plan, I went for a run last night.  I love the running weather we're having right now, where a light, long sleeve shirt is all you need and shorts are still acceptable.

I'm really hoping that I can get a long ride in this weekend.  I certainly plan to.  But I'll have to work it around the hubby's birthday on Sunday.

Happy Birthday, hubby!  I love you.